Thursday, December 30, 2010

Abstractolator No. 1

outer space without getting into a space vehicle

Here's my first official Abstractolator photo. (I am the Abstractolator, at yoru command.) And it's kind of literal, after all that. Stars! Paul Light sent the text under the photograph, and I did my best to make it happen. Anyway, send your descriptions, audience, such as you are, please! Just a word or two describing colors and composition to and you will see your words realized photographically. (See the previous post for full explanation.) Thanks, Paul!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Describe an Abstraction

Friends, family, acquaintances, and complete strangers: I need your help. Just describe a painting or any abstract work of art. I'll do the rest, using your description as the "idea" for a new photograph. The point? I want to experiment with how words connect to objects, and how form and content are connected. Also, I've run out of ideas of my own and could use a few handouts.

Just describe any abstract work that has lodged in your mind. Your description can be very brief, but please at least mention color and composition. I am interested in your memory of the artwork, so it's best if you don't consult the image or tell me the artist or title. You don't have to be elaborate or eloquent. You can even be brief and sloppy. (See example below.)

Your words will become part of the artwork, and I'll post both here.  (Let me know if you don't want your name mentioned.)  To send your description, just use the comments section on this blog or email me at

Thanks! I hope I'll have tons of new "ideas" to work with. I'll post the photographs as I do them in the order received. And I promise to do a picture for every idea posted.


Here's an example, supplied by my wife, Margaret:
“over a gray background, a dance or tangle of white, red, and black lines, maybe some green or yellow ones, each culminating in a small pool of color. it may be the product of a disordered mind but to me it looks gay in the old sense or joyous -- color and lines are joyous.”
Here's the picture.
My photograph, based on a my wife's memory of an abstract painting.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Abstracts

Photo by Paul Smith.
Painting by Clifford Still
My studio photograph, composed according to my memory (without consulting books or the web) of Clifford Still's painting.
The results of a Google image search for "peeling paint." There are many, many pages like this.

Lately, I've been mulling over a typical approach some photographers take to abstraction: "My photo of peeling paint looks just like an abstract painting!" (My series Artist's Statements is on a related topic.) Judging by the quantity of this work I've seen over the years, these "instant paintings" must seem like miracles--at least to the photographers involved. I like how it's a little like a game of "telephone," the message becoming garbled as it's passed along. Something undeniable remains, yes, but I'm just as interested in the garbling, maybe more.

My version of the Still (he was an American Abstract Expressionist) was made in my studio from a vague memory, photographing bits of string, tape and whatever was at hand to approximate Still's work. It's not really an homage to Still, exactly. It's an homage to all those photographers who take pictures of rusty old cars, walls of peeling paint, old barn doors, etc., and call them "my abstracts."

I have another related project in mind, and in a future post, I'll ask you, dear readers, for help and collaboration if you're willing. More in the next day or two.